What is the definition of a habitable lounge?

by Readers Question

11:00 AM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

What is the definition of a habitable lounge?

Make Text Bigger
What is the definition of a habitable lounge?

Does anyone know what would need to be done to a conservatory in order for it to become habitable space?lounge

When Hammersmith and Fulham Council granted my HMO license, they said that the house would have to have a room dedicated for use as “tenant lounge” by 2018. They said that they’ve found fewer social problems in houses with lounges.

They also said that my conservatory wouldn’t count as a lounge, which I can understand as it is energy inefficient.

I don’t want to lose a bedroom to make a lounge, so I’d rather do a proper job on the conservatory and make that a lounge instead. Trouble is, I can’t find anyone (including the Council) who can specify in advance what constitutes a lounge?

Separately, can I just say what a daft policy this is? It’s just going to reduce the supply of affordable rooms available in London, in common with seemingly every other piece of legislation that’s coming out these days. Generally I’ve no complaints about H&F Council, but this seems a daft policy to me.

Many thanks

St Jims

 



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:02 AM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

I don't know and don't quote me, but Orangeries seem to be the new in thing and I have seen some very nice ones that I would personally say are more than habitable.

Harlequin Garden

13:10 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Having a couple of shared houses/hmos of this type I do find that there is a better type of tenant when you have communal space and they are not taking food etc to their rooms to eat and basically using the bedroom as a a bedsit - it is far more pleasant for the tenant - I give up a bedroom and get more rent for the other rooms. Also the bedroom comes back in better condition if they are able to have another space.

Gary Nock

13:16 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

The reasons they won't accept a conservatory or an orangery as a lounge is its energy inefficiency due to the roof and a lack of heating. By installing one of the new warmroofs which has to get through the LA planning process lite and installing a radiator then you may have a chance of it being classes

Gary Nock

13:32 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Classed as a lounge I meant to say.

matchmade

14:54 PM, 27th April 2016
About 3 years ago

I agree with the comments so far that lounges or large kitchen-diners that double as a social space do make for better group cohesion and a better social atmosphere in an HMO. The lounge encourages tenants to stay longer and look after the property, as they feel they are not just living in a hotel or a set of bedsits, possibly with a decomposing body or mad axeman in the next room. The lounge allows the possibility of having friends round to visit, without them having to perch on your bed, and encourages the tenants to engage in that old-fashioned activity of actually talking to one another and being friendly.

As regards a definition for a lounge, I would imagine it's just a room large enough, warm enough and accessible enough to qualify as a "habitable room" for all the tenants. Doesn't the Valuation Office have a description of what they mean by this, as part of their assessment of properties for council tax? Or just tell the Council what you plan to do, ideally with plans, and ask them to confirm in writing that this is likely to meet with their approval.

Most PVC conservatories are rubbish anyway: too hot in summer, too cold in winter. I would pay to upgrade it with a warmroof and a couple of electric panel radiators, and add a TV and any necessary electric points. If possible I would also improve the floor insulation, perhaps with electric underfloor heating on top of insulation boards. Or you could bite the bullet and knock the thing down, replacing it with a proper extension, with good floor insulation, hot water underfloor heating tied into your central heating system, and a proper insulated roof. This will genuinely improve the value of your property as well as provide an improved offering for your tenants, which may justify a higher rent and probably improve your rate of retention and ability to attract new tenants.

One final point: more and more councils are trying to get HMOs redefined for council tax, so each room is taxed separately at Band A, rather than one band for the whole house. If you look at the Valuation Office's definition of separate residential units (even with a shared kitchen and bathrooms), I think one of the factors is whether there is any social space. It could therefore really pay you to have a proper lounge, in case the day comes when Hammersmith and Fulham try to pull the Band A council tax trick on you. I know the tenant will be the ultimate payer, so you may not care less, but imagine what a band A designation for your single rooms will do to your property's attractiveness, compared with the house round the corner that *does* have a lounge and thus a single council tax?

St. Jims

9:42 AM, 28th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Thanks everyone for your responses. I didn't know about the Band A re-cat on HMOs, so thanks for the tip there, Tony. Nor ha dI heard about the Valuation Office - I will look into that and report back here once I know more.


Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Variation of lease to rectify adverse possession?

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More